Three draft picks the Canucks should choose



If there is one thing that can come out of last season’s dismal performance, it’s that the Canucks get the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft, and therefore a good chance to get a key piece for the future. It should be noted that any pick is a gamble and the further teams get from the top three prospects, the risk of a bust increases. Still, though, the Canucks have a good chance for a key guy.

Considering the Canucks’ offensive woes as of late, one would presume that they would be looking for someone to be a key offensive contributor, especially since last year’s ninth overall Bo Horvat is drawing questions about his offensive game, despite being great defensively.

Obviously, Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett would be great additions, and will likely be the stars of their future team. However, it is unlikely they will drop past the third spot, and the price for trading up the draft (going from spot six to first overall for example) would be high, in my opinion. Probably too high.

With that being said, I would not be surprised to see the Canucks grab a few extra draft picks, namely in a possible Kesler trade. But I would think they would be later rather than earlier in the draft. That being said, here are some possible draft choices assuming the Canucks stay at sixth overall:

JAKE VIRTANEN – A 6’1” left winger for the Calgary Hitmen who is seventh overall on the International Scouting Services (ISS) Top 30 list of prospects. He is projected to be a power-forward and would bring both the toughness the Canucks want, and with 45 goals and a point per game pace in 71 games, the offensive production as well (at least in junior, which does not always translate, unfortunately.) A nice bonus is that he is from Abbotsford. However, on the negative, power-forwards often take a longer time to develop (see Kassian). He also recently suffered a shoulder injury that could hinder, or at least delay, development.

NICK RITCHIE – A 6’2” forward with the Peterborough Petes who is projected as tenth overall in the ISS rankings. He is also seen to be a tough power-forward in the making, with 39 goals over a point a game last season, and also notching 136 penalty minutes. He is bigger than Virtanen as well, lending well to the big, tough, but uptempo style the Canucks may try to build for. However, as with Virtanen, he may take longer to develop. TSN insider Bob McKenzie has noted that Ritchie has consistency issues, which could become a headache down the road.

NIKOLAJ EHLERS – A 5’11” Danish forward with the Halifax Mooseheads, who produced both the first and third overall picks last year, he is projected at eleventh overall by the ISS. Having scored 104 points and 49 goals in 63 games, Ehlers is equipped with great speed and hands. He would potentially have good chemistry with fellow Danish prospect Nicklas Jensen. However, his point totals may have been inflated by playing on a line with last year’s third overall Jonathan Drouin. As well, his 5’11” frame puts him on the small side, one reason last year’s Hunter Shinkaruk dropped to 24th overall.

In addition to these three, 5’11” center William Nylander Altelius provides a good option, as he will probably fall just outside of the first five picks, and many speculate that Michael Dal Colle, a 6’2” forward who the ISS has at third and generally agreed to be in the top five, may drop places in the draft.